Born 8:06 a.m. at SöS hospital a day in June of 1978, raised in Enskede, a suburb south of Stockholm, Sweden with parents and big brother.Emil P.W.S Holmgren
At the end of my kindergarten stay my big brother's friend Fredrik had bought the just released and very popular Twisted Sister album "Stay Hungry" (1984), and I clearly remember the joy of running around the kindergarten yard, yelling "Stay hungry, feel the fire" at the top of my lungs, not having the slightest clue what it meant. During my first years of school I already had a make believe band called "Pen", which I drew LP records and sleeves for (no music existed though).
In 1986, my brother and I were home alone in front of the TV and SVT (the public television, the only two channels available back then) broadcast a full Europe concert which we watched at near full volume. It's not legally proven, but we think it's sometime around this point that that TV set started acting strangely... About halfway through the set, the drummer Ian Haugland with a pair of drum sticks and a snare drum stands, all alone, in the spotlight and performs a blinding rudiments solo. I knew right then I'd come to play drums for the rest of my life.
Ian Haugland during his snare-only solo in Solnahallen, 1986.
My father, however, seems to have known alot earlier. I my child diary he writes on April 10 1979: "Yes, a few weeks ago I took out a pair of drum sticks and drummed on a stool - & Emil wanted to borrow one & held it quite the right way and drummed with me." Only ten months of age...
Some time during 1986 I joined the public music school, at first with a very sympathetic estonian who mostly wanted to teach marches and stuff like that, things of no interrest to me (something I regret bitterly today, since I would have had alot of benefit from later). This was also the year my dad bought the drumkit that I still own. He, however, thought he'd be using in to jam with his jazz records. Foolish man...
Making my first live performance ever, summer camp 1988.
After a while I switched to the worst music teacher I've ever had in my entire life: Stefan Jansson (who, apparently, also had renowned drummer André Ferrari for a student). Out of the students quitting his class in that batch I think I lasted the longest, probably mostly for stubbornness reasons... Three semesters I lasted, before I grew tired of his 'nick names', little degrading 'jokes' and general attitude. It would take until high school before I took drumming lessons again.
In 1989, at summer camp, I had a life changing experience: I heard the greatest band of all time, Metallica, for the first time. A guy tossed me a tape of "...And Justice for All" (1988) I knew instantly that they would be my favourite band for all eternity.
In fourth grade, my first band "The Rockets" was formed (a name I'm slightly ashamed to admit was my idea). The band initially included my class teacher Benke, the janitor Lasse and five(!!) of my classmates.
We did covers of classic rock songs like "Cadillac" and "Really Got Me". At our last but one "gig" during our sixth grade graduation me, Lasse and two classmates were all that remained. We did one last gig in my grade school lecturing hall as a trio, with only guitar, drums and vocals.
It was also during this period that I took my first stumbling steps in the wonderful world of music recording, by ping-ponging instrument by instrument on a double cassette deck.
After grade six came a lot of bands that had little or no results. One band, Uniqm, did a gig in Enskedeskolan's gym hall. I vaguely recall the setlist consisting of Misfits' "Last Caress", Bad Religion's "Do what you want" and an original song which also was in the punk rock vein.
The Uniqm logo, carved out of wood, made in shop class around 1994
We also did a nightmarish gig at my grade school, when the singer and one of the guitarists were away. The line up was; one guitar player, two twin brothers temping on bass and guitar and me on drums and vocals. The twins had never played with us before the gig, which really just made way for the collapse to come.
During music high school auditions i was practicing Metallica's "For Whom the Bell Tolls", which I was going to use for my audition on both drums and guitar, with the tabulature book on my lap.
The guy next to me gazed timidly at it and said
"Ummm... You like Metallica?"
"They're my favourite band," I replied.
"Mine too!" he said.
We sat there playing Metallica songs on our guitars so loudly and with such enthusiasm that the audition conductor came out of the room several times and said "It's great that you like playing, guys, but you have to keep it down a little, we're holding auditions in here..." We said "Oh, sorry... " and immediately with unaltered enthusiasm and volume.
The guy who shared my burning enthusiasm for Metallica was Pirre, who would come to be my best friend from that day. We almost spent more time in the school's rehearsal rooms playing Metallica than in class!
Very blurry live pic from school, me far left, Pirre far right.
In grade school I'd met Jonas Lichter, who played in a band together with two guys called Thomas and Radu. I met them in their rehearsal space once (which consisted of a garage in Jonas' backyard). Boy, was I surprised when I ended up in the same class as Thomas in high school! They asked me to replace Jonas in the band and I accepted. The music leant towards grunge.
Initially we bore the ridiculous name "Dirty Landré" which, after about one gig and one porta studio demo, was cast aside for the much better sounding "Driven". After recording a studio demo around new years 1995-96 featuring only me and Radu (bass player Thomas had quit at the moment), the band split up. They later reformed, but by then I was already long gone.
I'd been fooling around with Radu's four track cassette porta studio and, of course, reckoned it a big step up from the double cassette deck, so I went and bought a used porta studio of my own. I made loads of more or less crappy recordings during this period, but I also had got my first audio engineering assignment consisting of the production of a demo for my classmate's band Herr Fisk ("Mr. Fish").
Some time during 1997 I also had a band called Mastodont, which only existed for about a month. I wrote 2-3 fully okay songs which I have recorded a few times since.
I also bought my analogue Fostex home studio equipment, consisting of an eight channel mixer and an eight track reel-to-reel tape machine. I could now record my more or less crappy demos on more tracks than four!
In 1996 I took a note in a music store reading something like "Metal band looking for drummer, influences: Pantera, Slayer, Old Metallica". I got in contact with Johan and Daniel we played together for the first time together in the beginning of August that year. Early on we were a trio playing mostly Metallica and Pantera covers (I've got a godforsaken porta studio demo of Creeping Death from this time). After a couple of months, russian bass player Leo entered the picture and played our first gig with us, at my high school.
We'd rehearsed a "Ride the Lightning" medley, consisting of "Fade To Black", "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and "Creeping Death", but since one of the other bands played way longer than their given time, we only had time for "Creeping Death". That resulted in the angriest, fastest version of the song anyone had heard for a long time!
Leo got sacked and we recruited Andreas on bass. Come spring 1997, we recorded our first demo, consisting of two untitled songs (with the work titles "Fyran" and "Pain Love Pain") on my home studio in my parents' basement. We sent it in to some rock contest I can't remember the name of and we never heard from them again. I wonder why...
Live onstage with Arcane during "Fornstock 98".
We joined the rock association Alliansen and recorded two songs in their studio, "Inheritance" and "GOF". We played a number of gigs in this association, one was in the back of a truck(!) at a public beach(!!). We actually recorded a second version of "Inheritance" as Daniel's final project at SAE (see below), where I had to play bass, since Andreas was occupied elsewhere.
In 1998 we finally got a name, Arcane, because of our participation on a compilation album, "Alliansen 98". Rock hard thrash was now the musical style of choice, we contributed with "Silent Consent" (previously called "Ös") and "Recoil" (which earlier on went under working name "Sjufyran"). We played what would prove to be our last gig at the release party, held at the now shut down Studion, in December 1998. Time passed, we recorded the original, multi faceted song "By Your Own Hand" (that too in Alliansen's studio).
The cover of "Alliansen 98".
When I graduated high school (after writing the metal musical "Jekyll & Hyde" as graduation project with my favourite teacher of all time - and the worlds best drum teacher - Johan Junstrand, as project counselor) my appetite for music production and audio engineering and I went to SAE (School of Audio Engineering), where the bands singer Daniel studied. The studies went up and down and I went between feeling inspired and bored.
Hand written score for "The Final Battle", a "Jekyll & Hyde" song.
This was also where my solo project Absorb first started taking shape... True, I had been experimenting with composition all alone earlier too and even recorded myriads of little demo songs, but nothing I was proud of enough to want to share with anyone.
Arcane recorded what would be come our last song together, "Justice Infinite", as my final project at SAE, and I graduated with 86,1% as final grade (in practical tests I had 95,8%) in June 1999.
In May 1999 I came in contact with Krippa, a way too blond flaxen-haired guy who was way younger than I, through Metallica Club Scandinavia's forum. He wanted to form a band, I wanted to try my wings as a front man.
We formed a band together with Robin, Fredde and Jonas, playing together at a youth rec center where I, in the fall of 1999, started working with taking care of the rehearsal space. In those days I only sang in the band. When the rec center's economy started going down the drain they could no longer afford having me employed and I lost contact with the band.
During the early summer of 2000 I received a phone call from a former co-worker; the rec center was being shut down and they wanted a good bye concert, which they wanted me to do sound for. I left my vacation in Gothenburg half way and went home. Krippa forced me onstage to sing "So What!" with the band (now named Ambush) and we decided to start playing together again.
We sacked the guitarist and bassist and enlisted Krippe on bass. I picked up guitar along with lead vocals. We took the name "Resurrect" and had two more or less successful gigs before everyone but me and Krippa jumped ship. Resurrect is still basically on ice, but me and Krippa have a near-finished 3 song demo on my hard drive.
Resurrect live onstage at "Morris".
I took another "musicians wanted" note, this time from the progressive metal band Yore, looking for a drummer. I joined some time during 1999 and we rehearsed frenetically. Our first gig was in Kungsträdgården January 2 2000. We performed the only song we ever composed together, "Enblooming". It was 2 degrees Celcius and I was playing with metal drum sticks, so I completely lost feeling in my fingers. cold condensation water kept dripping from the ceiling, but under the circumstances the gig went well.
Yore live in Kungsträdgården January 2nd, 2000.
That was also the first time we met our would be bass player, Johan. He rehearsed well into 2001, but regrettably didn't play our second and last gig together. Instead we got some assistance from the bands former bassist and singer David and played, besides "Enblooming", Two of the band's old songs from the days when they were called Aeonart; "Stray In the Greyest of Velvet" and "The Farthest". We parted as friends, which was nice.
Then came a time when it was very thin on the band front.
I made friends with Rebell-Robert, Sweden's only "knullpunkare" (fuck punker?) , and we started playing together in the subway, him on acoustic guitar and vocals, me on harmony vocals and electric guitar (through a miniature amp).
One day I went to McDonalds at Slussen and got in line to order. Behind the counter stood a long haired young man looking awfully metal. "So, what are you eating for free today, then?" he asked. That was Pontus, guitarist in the death metal band Incendiary. We soon became friends and he started joining me and Robban down in the subway (and the streets of Stockholm).
Pontus and Robban during a brief break in one of the all-night playing sessions.
He presented me to his guitar teacher Zack, a metal crazed american from Detroit. I produced and engineered a demo with Laid To Unrest, consisting of him and Amon Amarth drummer Fredrik. We soon became friends and recorded our brutal viking death metal demo with Orchards of Odenwrath.
I joined Krippa's solo project "Darkmoon Ritual" for a while, and our subway music became a band with me, Rebell-Robert, Krippa, Pontus and a keyboardist named Bobo called "Robban & Rebellerna" (Robert & The Rebels). We rehearsed and had enormous amounts of fun, but never got anywhere. We recorded a demo song when the band as such didn't really exist anymore and in 2002 we had a gig with only me, Pontus and Robban at Club Clampers.
2002 was also the year M-Teens - mine, Krippa's, Pontus' and Incendiary bassist Tobbe's Metallica cover band - formed. We did a pretty successful gig at youth rec center "2:an" in Nacka. The setlist consisted of "Whiplash", "Master of Puppets", "Creeping Death", "The Four Horsemen", The Kristet Utseende cover "Quinna" and "For Whom the Bell Tolls".
That same year, me and Pontus joined the punk band Mansic. We were sitting in the singer's living room and they asked me if I wanted to join them for their Europe tour and the answer did not take much thought. They hinted that they also needed a rhythm guitarist, so I called Pontus up and he joined without hesitation.
Mansic live at Stureplan. You can almost spot me behind the drums.
We planned a three week tour of Poland, Germany, the Czech and Switzerland. We recorded the jinxed DIY album "Punkrock Paperdoll" in the rehearsal room and my living room. I had leant my reel-to-reel tape machine to another band who had failed to return it for weeks after they were done with it, so I had to cut the drums straight to DAT with no means of mixing it afterwards. To top it off, I had a really crappy sound card called ST Audio DSP24 Value (do NOT buy one!), that had serious problems with sample frequencies, resulting in a really weird guitar sound.
The tour was closing in fast. Because of, let's say "logistic" problems (including non-registered vehicles, missed ferries and misread addresses), the tour got shortened to only one week, with only a few dates in Poland and Germany. The tour proved to be as jinxed as the album. A flat tire, a malfunctioning spark plug and a rain storm made us miss the first Poland gig, but the second one in Slupsk went OK. The third Poland gig in Naklo was hell of a good time, much thanks to the audience since the sound and monitor mix were miserably bad.
The first gig in Germany was a small festival in the town of Tallheim. We kicked so much ass it was ridiculous, but the pretty big crowd just stood, nay, sat several tenths of meters away, right in front of the mixer booth and just stared blankly! 4-5 of them gave some half assed applause between the songs. We immediately grabbed hold of the situation; as the first song ended we started insulting the audience in swedish through the microphones! That was probably the most fun Mansic ever had and probably will have.
After the gig everyone got reeling drunk, except for me who caught a criminally bad cold. My eyes were running, my nose was running, my face hurt and I had a fever of 39-40 degrees. Everyone ignored my attempts at pointing this out to the band, but since the bass player had had an allergic reaction to a bee sting in his hand, we still shortened the set of the last gig on the tour, in Leipzig. That's the night when everything went bad, we got really mad at each other and I decided then and there to quit the band.
We had two gigs in Denmark booked for that fall, so I decided to wait to save them from having to start recruiting. When they called me a few days after coming home from the tour and wanted to sack me I didn't protest, I was done with Mansic, and they with me.
That fall we played another gig with M-Teens during a tiny festival at Nacka I.P. Krippa was out of town, so it was just me, Pontus and Tobbe. The sound was awful, the playing was kind of sloppy, but we had a good time.
Then I was bandless for almost a year. I had a pretty productive period with my solo project, wrote loads of my little "snippets", as I call them.
At the end of 2003, however, I grew tired of not having anyone to play with and started placing "band wanted" ads on the net and the progressive metal band where I ended up playing bass sought me out at the end of November. I had a mean cold (a pretty commonly reoccurring element of my career) and we didn't play together until early December, but then we had helluva good time!
A few weeks after welcoming me into the band Patrik, the bands singer, joined and we finally had a full setting.
Even though I know I'm not a master bassist at least my band mates made me feel like one, and I found the music were playing stimulating and powerful...
We took the name "Illusion of Clarity" (which I proudly declare my suggestion). During the winter/spring of 2004 we recorded the "The Three Fiends" demo, consisting of two old songs from the band and one that was almost done when me and Patrik joined. Then the live playing started. We debuted on the gigantic Kungsträdgården stage on May 5 2004 on "Folkhögskolans dag" ("People's university day"??). No small warm up gigs here! We also played a few highly successful gigs at Pub Anchor and a cold, deserted, but fun one at the Hunnebostrand festival.
Illusion of Clarity live in Kungsträdgården.
At some point during the spring of 2004 Pontus called me up after I hadn't seen him in a while, wondering if I wanted to play a gig with his thrash band "Chainsaw". Since I've always enjoyed playing with Pontus, love thrash and, on top of that, hadn't gotten to play drums for a great while, I accepted. We rehearsed for a while and singer Nicke joined.
At first everything went well, until Nicke got ill. He was vacant from rehearsal for weeks, all along ensuring Pontus that he knew the songs and to continue rehearsing without him, and he would join us as he got well. Well he didn't get back until the week before the gig! When he did return it became apparent that he hardly remembered the songs at all, he even sang half a song from the wrong lyric sheet at one point without noticing! We got pretty pissed off, but didn't say anything.
At the gig he was even worse, singing the wrong lyrics, goofing off on stage and made the entire show into a circus act. Not even when folded over the monitors and reading straight from the lyric sheets did he sing the right words! We've received a lot of praise for our performance that gig, always with the exception for the singer.
Me and Pontus onstage with Chainsaw in Orminge.
During the late summer of 2004 Illusion started on our second demo, which became much more representative for the band, since everyone were composing this time. It's harder, more progressive and much more varied. I also wrote a full song, "Unconcious Minds", a very progressive metal song about how people waste their artistic talents when they get stuck in "regular" jobs.
We started recording early fall at Ola Englund's Midtown Studios and drum, rhythm guitar and bass recordings were done fairly quickly. Down on our luck, Patrik got laryngitis and couldn't sing for quite a while, so the release date got pushed further and further forward. While waiting for Patrik's throat to get better we started recording lead guitars and backing vocals at D-Farm, the studio where the first demo was recorded. Finally, Patrik's voice got back into shape and we resumed vocal recordings during the late fall/early winter and on November 11 2004 we were ready to present "Ambivalent Existence" in all its glory to the rest of the world. It's a collection of songs I'm still really proud of.
We played a few more gigs, at Elverket, Pub Anchor and Runby Pub in Upplands Väsby (and forgot to play our Europe cover, even though that's their home town).
Come 2005, we started work on material for demo number 3, but all along something was bothering me. Each time we rehearsed I felt more ill at ease with the type of bass playing the other guys wanted me to engage in. My view on bass is a traditional bass line style, woven in with the drums rather than with the guitars. I wanted to play bass lines and perhaps follow along with the end of a little guitar doodle every now and then, the other guys wanted the full-on, guitar doubling, Yngwie-style bass playing.
Hesitating to take that conflict, I tried my best to play it their way when I could, but all that time I felt really bad and it was a great relief when, on August 1st, I posted on the bands private forum and told the other guys how I felt, that I wanted out, and how I thought we'd both benefit from them getting someone better equipped to play all the complicated parts they were writing and also someone who was into that sort of playing.
The "Illusion" logo, designed by me and my older brother, Martin.
There's no animosity between us and I wish the guys the best of luck in the future and I sincerely hope they find a better fitting player! After all, I came up with the bands name and logo, I would hate to see all that work go to waste! ;o)
I also began work on a Megadeth cover CD of five songs, which I was hoping to give to Dave Mustaine when they play Sweden Rock Festival in 2005, but it'll have to wait. Too bad I can't let you hear any of the songs (since posting covers would be copyright infringement), but let me tell you, I'm pretty proud of where it's going.
Merely weeks after I left Illusion, I got offered by Pontus to rejoin Chainsaw. I accepted, knowing how well we've played together in the past and how good the songs we played at the Orminge gig were.
However, a couple of months after I rejoined, singer Jonas jumped ship and bass player Harry soon followed. Me, Pontus and lead guitarist Fredde decided not to call it quits and started auditions right away. We filled the singer spot almost instantaneously with Brazilian monster Mario Augusto Felipe Santos Ramos, or Super Mario for short.
Chainsaw Mk III live at Club 666.
I suggested we'd try Tobbe from M-Teens on bass and after two rehearsals we welcomed him in the band. We played a much appreciated gig at Club 666, and were writing new material and booking more gigs when Fred started not showing up for rehearsals or calling any of us for weeks. When he'd been gone for quite a while without any contact, we were forced to make the painful but necessary decision of replacing him, since we had gigs coming up.
Again, I was the one to suggest the replacement: my former bandmate from Illusion of Clarity, Christian. After some convincing he was up for the challenge! We played a gig at Södertäljes Club Undertaker and two at Pub Anchor.
Sometime during the spring 2006 I was also contacted by Zack again, he was doing sort of a follow-up to our 2002 Orchards of Odenwrath demo. This time he was doing a full album under the name Odenwrath, and he wanted me to play drums on half of the songs. I ended up playing on three out of the ten songs off the album "The Ravencult", mixed and mastered by Zack.
Chainsaw Mk. IV live at Pub Anchor.
During this whole period I was writing loads of songs/ideas for songs for Chainsaw which were almost always greeted by most band members with comments of liking and thumbs up, but no one seldom seemed to make an effort to learn the ideas or keep building on them. This really bothered me, since in my mind they were really good ideas and everyone claimed to agree. However, every time Pontus came with a new riff or song idea everyone learned it right away.
Chainsaw Mk. IV live at Club Undertaker.
Another thing that bothered me more and more was that even in the songs that were being written in a mutual effort, people seemed more and more reluctant to try out the little embellishment ideas I had. This continously growing feeling of not being listened to almost led me to quitting a few times, but I was held back by the fact that I really enjoyed playing with these guys and had a hoot hanging out.
All this aside, I was nonetheless chocked when I learned that my band mates had (behind my back, mind you) made their mind up that I didn't fit in the band anymore. Not only that, they had been discussing this without me for weeks and even booked a gig without telling me! I really hadn't seen it coming since the last gig we did was the most fun I've had playing drums onstage for years! I absolutely hadn't expected this to happen, and especially not in such a sneaky way as to already book gigs and talk to someone else about playing on it.
I'm almost more sorry for the band's sake than my own, this lineup was the most magical and musically accomplished ever. We just played so well together and everyones styles fit together perfectly. I'm not gonna say never, but right now I don't think I'd play with them again if they asked me.
Time passed and for the longest time I couldn't be bothered looking for nor starting bands. In 2008, my friend Oliver and I started a thrash metal duo called Dissonance, wrote an angry Bay Area-style thrash song against an insane data registration law.
In 2009, I did find an online ad for prog metal drummer, joined the band, even wrote and rehearsed a song with them. Ultimately, though, it all fell apart due to the lack of an active singer and inspiration to compose more songs.
I also joined Oliver and Ola's band Tromacide, planning to do gigs following the release of their first DIY album, "Rated R for Radiation", but ultimately we lost our rehearsal space after learning only two or three songs together and nothing has happened with that since. I've been helping Oliver with his horror metal project Coronicon, recording guitars and bass and helping with arrangement and production.
That's all for now, I'll be sure to keep you posted!